Helen Woodward Animal Center Announces a New COVID-19 Assistance Program to Promote Emotional Well Being…

Rancho Santa Fe,

Rancho Santa Fe, Dec. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- With the holiday season upon us, a desire for the familiar joys and festivities is battling up against the challenges of a year unlike any other.  Just this week the California Department of Public Health released concerning news about COVID-19 numbers, along with a reminder that the majority of hopeful plans for togetherness and tradition have undoubtedly landed on the “restricted” list.  In a continued effort to assist employees during this unique time, Helen Woodward Animal Center announces the extension of its on-site daycare to children of staff members and is proud to announce a new COVID-19 assistance program, providing an on-site licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) for private one-hour therapy sessions for employees.

In August this year, as news of COVID-19 spread, school classrooms were forced to shut their doors to more than half of all children in the U.S.  The goal of welcoming kids back to populated and seemingly precarious school hallways was halted, leaving working parents with challenging choices.  To address the need, Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms launched a COVID-19 assistance program providing, children of Center employees with on-site daycare overseen by licensed teachers to assist with on-line learning tailored to age, grade and subject matter.  Five vacant offices were converted into classrooms with all county, state, and federal CDC guidelines and protocols followed, keeping kids and teachers safe and socially distanced.  The program has been provided completely free of charge and is available to children of full-time, part-time, and on-call employees.  At its launch, it was assumed that the service would only be needed until the end of the year.

Unfortunately, this week the California Department of Public Health released the following statement, “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet – faster than what we experienced at the outset of the pandemic and this summer. If COVID-19 continues to spread at this rate, it could quickly overwhelm our health care system and lead to catastrophic outcomes.”  With the announcement, the lifting of California’s Purple Tier Status seems discouragingly far away and rumors of continued closures and Stay-At-Home Orders are having an emotional impact on individuals.

“What is concerning me most is the number of employees I talk to who seem to really be dealing with sadness,” explained Arms.  “There is a normal amount of stress in life and work but what I’m hearing has more to do with loneliness, feelings of hopelessness, and frustration at not being able to live the way they want to.  I also know that finances are challenging.  A lot of people have partners who lost their jobs this year and they can’t imagine taking on another expense, so talking to a therapist isn’t something they’ll consider.”

Indeed, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy announced in September that the stress of this year’s pandemic “has tripled the rate of depression in US adults in all demographic groups—especially in those with financial worries—and the rise is much higher than after previous major traumatic events.”   Additionally, the Journal of the American Medicine shows the highest suicide rate since 1941.

In response, starting next Wednesday, Helen Woodward Animal Center will provide employees an on-site licensed MFT available for one hour sessions one day each week.  Sessions will be handled with complete confidentiality and CDC guidelines will be followed during appointments. 

The Center will also continue to extend its on-site daycare with licensed teachers to assist with on-line learning for children of full-time, part-time, and on-call staff members, as long as this service is need.

“My staff works for the good of others,” stated Arms.  “It’s important that we take care of them too.  We can’t continue to save lives and put good out into the world if we’re not taking care of those who do the work.”

For information on Helen Woodward Animal Center and its adoptable pets and programs, log onto www.animalcenter.org.




About Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 90,000 people and more than 10,000 animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the International Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday® campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.  For more information, go to:  www.animalcenter.org.


Helen Woodward Animal Center adoptions staff bathe orphan puppies who recently arrived in a van transport amid the pandemic. Helen Woodward Animal Center foster staff member clips the nails of a bottle baby kitten.

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